Heating oil and gasoline rose as U.S. retail sales climbed the most in five months in February, increasing optimism about the economic recovery and fuel demand.
Futures rose as retail sales gained 1.1 percent, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Federal Reserve officials are expected later today to reaffirm a commitment to keep interest rates low. In Europe, German investor confidence jumped to a 21-month high in March.
“Some of the negative sentiments that have weighted on the market have eased,” said Gene McGillian, an analyst and broker at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “German investor confidence is up, retail sales have firmed the market and the Fed is expected to keep interest rates the same.”
April-delivery heating oil rose 0.66 cent to $3.2495 a gallon at 9:43 a.m. on the exchange. Prices touched $3.2697 before paring gains after the dollar rose against the euro, reducing the investment appeal of commodities.
Demand improved in 11 of 13 industry categories, including auto dealers and clothing stores, according to Commerce Department data.
Sixty-one percent of respondents in a March 9-12 poll by Bloomberg News said Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will refrain from any action to expand the Fed’s $2.89 trillion balance sheet this year. The Federal Open Market Committee plans to release a statement at about 2:15 p.m. today after its meeting in Washington.
The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said today its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, advanced to 22.3 from 5.4 in February.
Gasoline for April delivery rose 0.61 cent to $3.3291 a gallon, after touching $3.345.
“The dollar rally capped the retail sales boost,” McGillian said. “Without a real geopolitical crisis on our hands and no supply problem, the market is looking for its next catalyst.”
Regular gasoline at the pump, averaged nationwide, rose 0.4 cent to $3.805 a gallon yesterday, according to AAA data. Prices have gained 16 percent this year and are 7 percent higher than a year earlier.
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